Here is what you will need to know if you are a reporter or photographer interested in pitching the Food & Environment Reporting Network.
We are eager to support stories that are in-depth, investigative and explanatory. We expect they will have a broad impact when they appear. We are not, however, a grantmaking organization or a foundation. We are a news organization that commissions and produces stories. We contract with writers and retain non-exclusive distribution rights to the story. In essence, we act as a co-publisher with a print, broadcast or online outlet.
We also develop multimedia elements and info-graphics, and contract with freelance photographers to shoot our stories.
We support reporting that digs into subjects that have not been thoroughly covered in our area of focus, or which significantly furthers the reporting on a subject to date. We are also interested in explanatory pieces that make complicated topics accessible to a general audience. We expect reporters to travel to the locations where stories are based and do in-depth reporting.
We work within our network of media outlets to develop pitches, then edit, and place stories. If a reporter has an idea for a placement or a strong editorial connection, he or she can work with our editors to place the story.
Once a story has been pitched to and agreed upon by an outlet, our reporters typically work with one of our editors to craft the story. This editor also manages communication with the publication as the story evolves, making sure the piece meets the publication’s expectations. After a draft has been assembled, the host publication’s editor will then take over editing the piece. We work hard to assure that our writers are not overburdened or confused by this process and that the publication is involved every step of the way. It may be helpful to read this interview with one of our reporters, Maryn McKenna, on her experience working with FERN.
We may provide fact-checking or assist the outlet in doing so, and when necessary, offer a legal review of a story. Once a story appears, our in-house communications team assures that the story is widely read and disseminated, amplifying a story’s impact in social media. In working with younger reporters, we provide hands-on mentorship opportunities. We are also actively seeking minority reporters, to bring a greater diversity of voices to our coverage.
Our story budgets depend on the complexity of the project. We may pay for a reporter to pursue research on a compelling story idea to see if it might justify a full project. Once we agree in principle to a story, we ask that the reporter assemble a detailed budget to determine what the project will cost.
Our reporters must agree to follow our Code of Ethics. We also set deadlines in our contracts and expect our reporters to stay in touch with our editors as a piece evolves.
Interested in working with us? Reporters may pitch us on a rolling basis by emailing a story idea (no finished stories, please) and clips or links to our Managing Editor, Brent Cunningham, at [email protected]. Photographers may contact our Director of Photography, Deni Chamberlin, at [email protected]. While we require publication experience, part of our mission is to work with young reporters in a mentorship capacity, so special consideration will be given to those who fit into this category. However, we also prioritize working with reporters with long track records and solid experience in our focus areas.
For a list of current staff position searchers, go to our Jobs page.